New drinking threshold closer to law in Pennsylvania

| 9/29/2003

Less than a week before a federal deadline, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill to lower the state’s legal blood-alcohol limit for motorists.

The Senate passed the measure Sept. 24 by a 47-1 vote. It now heads to the House, which is expected to pass the bill by the end of the month, The Lewistown Sentinel reported.

In addition to lowering the blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, SB8 toughens penalties for drivers with especially high blood-alcohol levels and ensures that the Pennsylvania Transportation Department has authority to install an ignition interlock device in the car of a repeat offender for one year.

Without the lower limit in place by Oct. 1, the state risks losing $11 million in federal transportation funds, or 2 percent of certain highway road dollars. That would increase to 8 percent – $41 million – if the standard were not adopted by 2007.

The bill sets up increasing levels of punishment for higher blood-alcohol levels – 0.08 to 0.099; 0.10 to 0.159; and 0.16 and up – all becoming more severe with each additional offense.